Irrigation Company's Decision to Cut Water to Fairgrounds Irks Montezuma County

Dec 27, 2017

A decision by the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company not to allow Montezuma County to take water from a headgate near the fairgrounds is prompting questions and concern on the part of the county.

Commissioner Larry Don Suckla told KSJD MVI's announcement came as a suprise, and that the county takes issue with it. But MVI Board President Gerald Koppenhafer told KSJD the company is following the law. The county owns 20 shares of MVI water, which is agricultural water. The county road department and the fairgrounds both have used water in the past from the headgate in question. Suckla said he believes using the water to work on county roads qualifies as an agricultural use because farm equipment travels on those roads. But Koppenhafer says that does not pass muster as an ag use. He says the change in policy was necessary because the company’s water right is for ag purposes only and the county is using its water for municipal and industrial uses instead. He says MVI’s legal counsel has warned the company that if it allows anyone to misuse water, it puts the company at risk of being sued. Koppenhafer says if the county buys municipal and industrial water from the Dolores Water Conservancy District, MVI will be happy to deliver it at the headgate.

Austin Cope contributed to this report.